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Prepare to be filmed
The latest decision to endorse secret filming in the care sector is inevitably controversial. It is difficult to predict the outcome and there must be a risk of serious unintended and unanticipated consequences. Might it, for example, precipitate a recruitment crisis? Time will tell, but for now the intrusion looks inevitable and it may be wise to make some preparations. Here are some thoughts:
1. Be the first to know. Whistleblowing policies may sound threatening but in reality they help ensure you, the employer, are the first to know of any abuse. Make sure you have one in place – QCS provide a policy.
2. Check your culture. An employee attitude survey conducted anonymously, preferably via an outside party, is the best approach to really finding out what is like to work in your organisation and, therefore, what your risks are likely to be.
3. Review that culture. Does the survey indicate that, in a crisis, your first reaction is to find out who is responsible and take action? If so, you risk creating a blaming culture, not a problem-solving culture. These are some differences:
- Blamers start their investigation with “Who?” At the extreme, their aim is to find out who is responsible and fire them! It produces a work environment where people keep their heads down. “Back-stabbing” is common and severe peer pressure often prevents problems, even abuse of service users, from surfacing and being addressed. It can be a stressful working environment notwithstanding the other pressures of caring for vulnerable people. With the risk of sanctions against individuals there are strong pressures for cover-ups. Low response levels to employee surveys and poor responses within those surveys are often indicators.
- Problem-solvers start with “Why? Why has this happened?” Effective investigations involve several layers of “why?”, rather like the indolent child who is continually saying “but why?” in response to every answer. The underlying principle is that there are no sanctions and everyone is committed to achieving a solution. It is a bold approach. Employee surveys will confirm commitment and positive attitudes.
4. Change your culture, if appropriate. This is no easy task and certainly not a quick fix. The desire to change has to come from the top of the organisation, or at least, be sanctioned by it. That may be uncomfortable. Culture change needs to be well-led, but outside support is invaluable to help individuals through discomforting times when there may be a temptation to backtrack. HR Consultants, such as Employer Solutions, can be engaged to help.
Note the importance of an employee attitude survey. Conduct one and perhaps, as did one of our clients, you will find positivity at around 90%. You might then even find those secret films being used in training sessions!
Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions – QCS Human Resource Expert.
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